Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Licensing Committee (ceased to operate 10/04/2017) Minutes

Date:
Tuesday, 1st December, 2015
Time:
10.00 am
Place:
Council Chamber, Town Hall, High Street, Stockton on Tees, TS18 1AJ
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Cllr Paul Kirton(Chairman), Cllr Mrs Kathryn Nelson(Vice-Chairman), Cllr Derrick Brown, Cllr Chris Clough, Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Mrs Jean O'Donnell, Cllr Stephen Parry, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr Julia Whitehill, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Norma Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead
Officers:
Craig Barnes, Simon Mills(DNS), Jonathan Nertney, Sarah Whaley(LD)
In Attendance:
Applicant - Ref 141115, Applicant - Ref 140740, Applicant - Ref 001106 and his representative, Applicant - Ref 141139 and his representative Mr M Vaines.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Philip Dennis,
Item Description Decision
Public
L
43/15
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
L
44/15
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
L
45/15
MINUTES FROM THE MEETING WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 20TH OCTOBER 2015.
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record by the Chairman.
L
46/15
MINUTES FROM THE LICENSING SUB COMMITTEE MEETINGS WHICH WERE HELD ON THE 30TH JUNE AND 20TH JULY 2015.
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record by the Chairman.
L
47/15
EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC
RESOLVED that under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
Confidential
L
48/15
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 141115
  • Application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref 141115
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 141115 be refused a Private Hire Drivers Licence for the reasons as set out above.
L
49/15
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 140740
  • Application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref 140740
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 140740 be granted his Private Hire Drivers licence with a warning as to his future conduct as set out above.
L
50/15
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 001106
  • Application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref 001106
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 001106 be granted his Private Hire Drivers licence on successful completion of the full application procedure.
L
51/15
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - 141139
  • Application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence - 141139
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 141139 be refused a Private Hire Drivers Licence for the reasons as set out above.
10.00am

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
43/15
The Evacuation Procedure was noted.
L
44/15
There were no declarations of interest.
L
45/15
Consideration was given to the Licensing Committee minutes of the meeting which was held on the 20th October 2015 for approval and signature.
L
46/15
Consideration was given to the Licensing Sub Committee minutes of the meetings which were held on the 30th June and 20th July 2015 for approval and signature.
L
48/15
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to an application for a private hire driver's licence from an applicant who had a number of convictions including endorsements on his DVLA driving licence.

The meeting was a reconvened meeting as Applicant - Ref 141115 was due to attend a previous Licensing Committee meeting which was held on the 3rd November 2015, however was unable to do so due to illness.

Applicant - Ref 141115 was in attendance at the meeting and had been provided with a copy of the Committee report prior to the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Applicant - Ref 141115's background and details of his convictions.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- Applicant - Ref 141115's application, including his DVLA driving licence.

- Applicant - Ref 141115's driving licence summary.

- A recorded interview with Applicant - Ref 141115.

The Committee considered the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Applicant - Ref 141115.

Members were reminded that under the provisions of Section 51(1) (a) of the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976 which instructed District Councils not to grant a licence to drive private hire vehicles unless they were satisfied that the applicant was a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.

Members gave full consideration to the Council's Policy on the Relevance of Convictions specifically those relating to the section regarding Major Traffic Offences. The Policy was very clear on this issue and stated any applicant should show a period of at least four years free of conviction or if disqualified, four years from the restoration of the licence. As Applicant - ref 141115 was not disqualified the latter did not apply. The Councils guidelines indicated that Applicant - Ref 141115 could not be considered for a licence until at least March 2017. There was no guarantee that Applicant - ref 141115 would be deemed to be a fit and proper person and the Council would give consideration to all relevant facts should Applicant - ref 141115 apply for a licence in the future.

The Committee also had concerns relating to the pattern of three other convictions recorded against Applicant - ref 141115 relating to drugs offences, dated from December 2003 leading to a motoring conviction in March 2013. Any conviction relating to drugs offences would always cause concern to the Licensing Committee.

The Licensing Committee were of the view that taking into consideration Applicant - ref 141115's previous convictions and pattern of behaviour he was not deemed to be a fit and proper person to hold a private hire drivers licence. The Committee were not persuaded to depart from the Council's Guidelines on the Relevance of Convictions on this occasion and refused Applicant - ref 141115's application pursuant to section 51(1)(a), of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.
L
49/15
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to an application for a private hire driver's licence from an applicant who had three drugs convictions.

Applicant - Ref 140740 was in attendance at the meeting and had been provided with a copy of the Committee report prior to the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Applicant - Ref 140740's background and details of his convictions.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- Applicant - Ref 140740's application, including his DVLA driving licence.

The Committee considered the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Applicant - Ref 140740.

Members were reminded that under the provisions of Section 51(1) (a) of the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976 which instructed District Councils not to grant a licence to drive private hire vehicles unless they were satisfied that the applicant was a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.

Members listened carefully to what Applicant - Ref 140740 had to say with regard to the matters disclosed on his Disclosure and Barring Service Certificate. They also noted that Applicant - Ref 140740 had previously been addicted to Cannabis. At the meeting Applicant - Ref 140740 was specifically asked by the Committee if he had ever used any other drugs to which he responded that he had not taken any other drugs.

The Committee deliberated over their decision as to whether they were satisfied at this time that Applicant - Ref 140740 was a fit and proper person to hold a licence. Members noted that the Council's Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings, Complaints and Character for drugs stated, "An applicant with a conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning for a drug driving related offence should be required to show a period of five years free of a conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning before an application was considered, or five years after detoxification treatment if the applicant was an addict".

Members did note that it had been 4 years and 10 months since Applicant - Ref 140740's last drugs conviction. The Committee noted that Applicant - Ref 140740 had previously had an addiction to cannabis but had taken steps himself to address it and confirmed that he had not taken any drugs for over 8 months. Applicant - Ref 140740 assured the Committee that he no longer had any involvement in taking illegal drugs. The Committee also noted that Applicant - Ref 140740 submitted to a drugs test with an Officer of the Council and the result was negative for all drugs.

After considering the individual circumstances of Applicant - Ref 140740's case the Committee were of the view that there were exceptional circumstances in Applicant - Ref 140740's case to depart from their guidelines and therefore agreed to grant Applicant - Ref 140740 his licence subject to a written warning. The Committee were of the view that Applicant - Ref 140740 had shown genuine remorse for his previous actions and that he had taken positive steps to address his previous addiction. The grant of Applicant - Ref 140740's licence was made subject to him attending council offices as and when required to undertake random drug tests, at Applicant - Ref 140740's own expense. Should Applicant - Ref 140740 fail any future drugs test, immediate action would be taken to consider his fitness to hold a licence. Applicant - Ref 140740 would be expected to attend at the time requested, should Applicant - Ref 140740 not comply with this or any other reasonable request the matter would be referred back to the licensing committee.

Applicant - Ref 140740 was reminded that as a licensed driver with this Authority he must comply with all of the Authority's Conditions of Private Hire Drivers Licence and in particular he was reminded of the conditions to behave in a civil and orderly manner at all times and given Applicant - Ref 140740's previous history he must not engage in any activities involving illegal drugs.
L
50/15
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to an application for a private hire driver's licence from an applicant who had previously been a licensed driver with this Authority. The applicant had a history of driving convictions and was disqualified from driving for 4 months in
November 2013.

Members recalled that the item had been deferred from a previous meeting which was held on 3rd November 2015 in order to ascertain whether Applicant - Ref 001106's ban from driving was as the result of his conviction for driving without due care or attention, or was the result of the accumulation of penalty points under the ‘totting-up' procedure.

Applicant - Ref 001106 was in attendance at the meeting with his representative and had been provided with a copy of the Committee report prior to the meeting and was given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Applicant - Ref 001106's background and details of his driving convictions.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- Applicant - Ref 001106's application and details of the status of his DVLA drivers licence.

- A letter dated 4th November 2014 from Stockton Borough Council, Trading Standards and Licensing department to Applicant - Ref 001106 informing him of the refusal of a previous application.

Members were respectfully reminded that under the provisions of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1976, District Councils were instructed not to grant a licence to drive private hire vehicles, unless they were satisfied that the applicant was a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.

Members carefully considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Applicant - Ref 001106 and his representative.

The Committee deliberated over their decision as to whether they were satisfied that Applicant Ref - 001106 was a fit and proper person to hold a private hire drivers licence. The Committee noted that Applicant Ref - 001106 had been disqualified from driving as a result of a conviction for a careless driving offence dated 1 October 2013. The Committee noted that the disqualification was not as a result of totting up despite being informed of this previously by Applicant Ref - 001106's legal representative. The Committee noted that the offence was not deemed to be a serious motoring offence under the Council's Relevance of Convictions. The Committee did feel that a disqualification for any motoring offence was a serious matter and it was considered to be relevant. Members also noted that Applicant Ref - 001106 currently had 5 live penalty points on his DVLA licence but that these were due to expire in April 2016.

After considering the individual circumstances of Applicant Ref - 001106's case the Committee, after taking into consideration the Councils guidelines, were of the view that Applicant Ref - 001106 was a fit and proper person and therefore decided to grant Applicant Ref - 001106 his licence, this was however, subject to Applicant Ref - 001106 completing the full application procedure.

At the meeting Applicant Ref - 001106 made a request for members to consider departing from policy and to grant his licence without the need for him to pass the knowledge test as Applicant Ref - 001106 had difficulty reading English. Members considered the request but were not persuaded to depart from Policy on this occasion and confirmed that Applicant Ref - 001106 would have to undertake and pass the knowledge test. Members did however agree to Applicant Ref -001106 undertaking the knowledge test on a one-to-one basis with an officer so that he could be assisted with reading the question and answer options.

Applicant - Ref 001106 was reminded that if he was successful in completing the application procedure that the issuing and holding of a licence was a privilege not a right and persons who held a licence were expected to conduct themselves in a manner that did not bring their profession or the Council into disrepute.
L
51/15
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to an application for a private hire driver's licence from an applicant who had been convicted of four offences. Three of the offences resulted in a prison sentence of two years, which was concurrent for all three offences.

Applicant - Ref 141139 was in attendance at the meeting along with his representative Mr Vaines. Both had been provided with a copy of the Committee report prior to the meeting and were given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Applicant - Ref 141139's background and details of his convictions.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- Applicant - Ref 141139's application, including details of his DVLA driving licence.

- A summary of an interview which took place between Applicant - Ref 141139 and a Licensing Officer on 27 October 2015.

- Applicant - Ref 141139's driving licence summary.

- Applicant - Ref 141139's drugs test results.

The application was put before the Licensing Committee at the request of Applicant - Ref 141139 as he was aware he did not meet the Policy requirements following his convictions for offences relating to illegal drugs.

Members were respectfully reminded that under the provisions of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1976, District Councils were instructed not to grant a licence to drive private hire vehicles, unless they were satisfied that the applicant was a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.

The Committee considered Applicant - Ref 141139's application on the basis of the documentary evidence put before them which also included references and offers of employment. Members listened carefully to the verbal presentation from Applicant - Ref 141139's representative, Mr Vaines.

In relation to the drugs conviction it was explained to the Committee that at the time of the offences Applicant - Ref 141139 was working as a licensed hackney carriage driver in the Billingham area and he had got to know the local drug dealers through his work as a driver. Applicant - Ref 141139 informed the Committee that on two occasions he had supplied, and on one occasion had offered to supply drugs to undercover Police Officers. The incidents had taken place over a number of weeks in July 2008.

Applicant - Ref 141139 had also stated that he was not a drug dealer and had merely been trying to help people out. He also explained the devastating effect that this had had on him as an individual and the effect that it had, had on his family life which Applicant - Ref 141139 was slowly rebuilding.

The Committee noted that Applicant - Ref 141139 had other convictions which were relevant to the consideration of his fitness as well as endorsements on his driving licence. All of these matters were of concern to the Committee and were deemed to be relevant.

On reaching the decision Members gave full consideration to the Council's Policy on the Relevance of Convictions specifically those relating to the section regarding drug related offences. The Policy was very clear on this issue and stated any applicant should show a period of at least five years free of conviction or five years from completion of any custodial sentence before an application should be submitted. It also stated that even after this period, if the offences were related to the supply of drugs, as Applicant - Ref 141139's were, even after this period an applicant was unlikely to be granted.

The Committee were not persuaded to depart from the Council's Guidelines on the Relevance of Convictions on this occasion and they found that Applicant - Ref 141139 was not a fit and proper person to hold a private hire drivers licence. Applicant - Ref 141139's application was refused pursuant to section 51(1)(a), of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

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